Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Money | By Oscar Reynolds

Audi headquarters raided over emissions scandal

Audi headquarters raided over emissions scandal

Investigators are probing whether engineers and executives at Audi, the luxury auto maker owned by Volkswagen, were involved in carrying out or covering up the plot by management at parent-company Volkswagen to rig almost 11 million diesel cars world-wide to cheat on emissions tests.

VW has already agreed to pay more than $1 billion to fix or buy back the 80,000 cars, but the US settlement is expected to end up costing the automaker as much as $17.5 billion.

The searches were carried out in order to identify those involved in installing the devices that cheated the diesel tests, Munich prosecutors said.

Prosecutors from several jurisdictions and state police from Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Lower Saxony carried out the raids, according to Reuters.

Chief Executive Rupert Stadler was giving a press conference on the company's performance just hours after news of the raids broke.

"There is suspicion that devices were built into these vehicles to manipulate emissions readings and conform to USA emissions limits, without..."

The searches at Audi's headquarters in Ingolstadt are being conducted by about 70 officials, a person familiar with the matter said. The two Audi plants employ a combined 60,000 workers. Offices and apartments are being searched but not the private home of CEO Stadler, the person said.

Ingolstadt-based Audi said it had every intention and interest in getting to the bottom of the emissions-cheating scandal. "We will keep at it until this work is done".

Sales in European markets are not part of the investigation, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Audi last month said it had fired four engineers from its diesel division for "gross breach of duty".

Audi was the second-largest contributor to VW group sales past year, the company's annual report indicated Tuesday, with 1.5 million units sold and €59.3 billion in revenues generated.

The searches began shortly before the beginning of the Audi's annual earning press conference.

German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung noted that the prosecutors had learned of the gathering at a time when it was too late to adjust the schedule of the search, which implies that the coincidence was entirely unintentional. The source also added that Stadler's home was not one of the homes raided by police.

"I have all along supported efforts to clear up the diesel issue at Audi", Stadler told journalists. Audi declined to comment on the probe.

Audi past year increased its diesel scandal-related provisions to 1.63 billion euros and has said it does not expect to have to do so again.

Audi was responsible for designing and manufacturing some of the engines that enabled the Volkswagen to cheat on emissions tests.

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